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Falcons 53-man roster projection: Preseason Week 3

With training camp and two preseason games in the books, it’s time for an update to our Falcons roster projection ahead of the final week of the preseason. Who wins the final WR spot? Does Jalen Mayfield make the 53?

Cincinnati Bengals v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

We’re nearly there, folks. Training camp and the first two games of the 2023 NFL Preseason are behind us, as we’ve watched this young Atlanta Falcons roster deliver a beatdown against the Dolphins and pull off an impressive final drive to tie the Bengals. We now enter the third and final week of the preseason, with final cuts just a week away.

That means this is the perfect time for an update to my 53-man roster projection, which will also include a 16-man practice squad for the first time. Read on for updates to my projections from the beginning of training camp.

The roster projection is also available in both video and audio format, which you can find embedded below. If you enjoyed the written version, consider giving us a click on these platforms as well.

Listen to the audio version of this article using the player below, or find it on your favorite podcast platforms.

Italics denote a change from the previous roster projection.


QB - 3

Desmond Ridder
Taylor Heinicke
Logan Woodside

No changes at the top, which shouldn’t surprise anyone. Desmond Ridder is probably only going to play that one drive this preseason, but it was an impressive one. Were there a couple throws that could’ve been positioned better? Sure, but ultimately it was a terrific drive that should have resulted in points if not for a horrid blown DPI call by the officials. Taylor Heinicke also had his fair share of impressive plays and has looked solid all through training camp.

The change comes at QB3, where the Falcons elect to keep Logan Woodside on the active roster. Woodside has played well during the preseason, enough that there’s a chance he could be signed off the practice squad. There’s also the new “emergency QB” rule to consider, which makes keeping a third guy a lot more logical.

RB - 3

Bijan Robinson
Tyler Allgeier
Cordarrelle Patterson

To make room for that third quarterback, there’s got to be a trim somewhere. For now, that trim comes at running back, where the Falcons keep just three on the active roster. As long as Cordarrelle Patterson is healthy enough to play Week 1, three RBs is plenty—the fourth RB would not typically be activated on gameday. We didn’t see Patterson in the preseason, but both Bijan Robinson and Tyler Allgeier looked good in their limited action. This is arguably the strongest trio in the NFL going into 2023.

FB - 1

Keith Smith

Keith Smith seems to have locked this job up once again in 2023.

TE - 5

Kyle Pitts
Jonnu Smith
Parker Hesse
MyCole Pruitt
John FitzPatrick

With the return of “New Unicorn” MyCole Pruitt, there’s been a bit of shakeup to this unit. I do think Pruitt is making the roster due to his versatility and rapport with Ridder, but I also think second-year tight end John FitzPatrick has consistently impressed throughout training camp and the preseason. The solution? Keep five tight ends on the roster like the team did for a good chunk of 2022. Given the team’s heavy usage of multiple TE sets, they need the depth and likely wouldn’t want to risk FitzPatrick getting signed off the practice squad.

WR - 5

Drake London
Mack Hollins
KhaDarel Hodge
Scotty Miller
Josh Ali

I’ve been shuffling my projections for the fifth receiver spot all through training camp and the preseason, only to wind up back where I started with Josh Ali. After a so-so camp and a mediocre first preseason game, Ali bounced back against the Bengals. His connection with Ridder is important and he appears to be involved on special teams, as well.

Otherwise, there’s not much intrigue with the top four in this group. London and Hollins looked great throughout camp and both had impressive plays in preseason, while Hodge is a core special teams player and Miller is the most proven deep threat on the roster. All feel pretty safe.

OL - 8

LT Jake Matthews
LG Matthew Bergeron
C Drew Dalman
RG Chris Lindstrom
RT Kaleb McGary

C/G Ryan Neuzil
T/G Josh Miles
T Jalen Mayfield

Just like I had to trim RB after keeping an extra QB, there’s a need to trim elsewhere after keeping an extra TE. That cut comes to the offensive line room, which has seen the depth ravaged by injury through training camp and the preseason. Matt Hennessy, the projected left guard starter, was just placed on season-ending IR alongside veteran depth addition Ethan Greenidge. This is a spot where the Falcons should probably be looking to add a veteran—someone like Dalton Risner with starting experience at both tackle and guard would be ideal, assuming he’s willing to sign for a backup role.

The starting five are the same as I projected heading into camp, but I’ve made some changes to the depth. I’m actually pretty confident in Ryan Neuzil as the primary interior backup, but the situation at tackle is sketchy at best. Josh Miles is OK and has experience filling in at a solid level, but Mayfield is...well, Mayfield. He’s got tons of potential and has looked better at his natural position, but his lack of length could present issues and he’s had an up-and-down preseason. As it stands, these are the guys I’d keep.


EDGE - 6

Calais Campbell
Bud Dupree
Lorenzo Carter
Arnold Ebiketie
DeAngelo Malone
Zach Harrison

No changes here, though the evolution of the depth chart has raised some eyebrows thus far. It appears that veteran Bud Dupree is the primary starter opposite Calais Campbell, not Arnold Ebiketie or Lorenzo Carter as some expected. I hope that’s a good sign that Dupree is healthy and back to his days as a 6+ sack player and good run defender, not an indictment of Ebiketie or Carter. DeAngelo Malone has been a fixture on special teams and has participated in a lot of linebacker drills—he may be moving to a more versatile role long-term. Rookie Zach Harrison has shown some impressive flashes, but may start the season as a gameday inactive.

IDL - 5

Grady Jarrett
David Onyemata
Ta’Quon Graham
Timmy Horne
Joe Gaziano

No changes to the top three players, but the depth chart behind them has changed dramatically. Eddie Goldman is apparently contemplating retirement once again and was placed on the exempt/left squad list. That’s opened the door for former UDFA nose tackle Timmy Horne to take over the starting nose tackle job, and he’s been impressive thus far. I also think the team will look to keep veteran Joe Gaziano on the final 53, as his versatility and experience could make him invaluable in case of injury.

LB - 4

Kaden Elliss
Troy Andersen
Nate Landman
Tae Davis

Another group where the bottom of the depth chart has seen significant upheaval since the start of training camp—the Falcons have since waived two of the guys I projected to make the roster in Mykal Walker and Dorian Etheridge. Instead, it’s former UDFA Nate Landman who has taken over the third spot. The fourth spot is likely to be one of the special teams aces the team brought in, and right now it looks like Tae Davis is in the lead. I’ll be axing the fifth linebacker to make room for Gaziano.

CB - 6

A.J. Terrell
Jeff Okudah
Dee Alford
Tre Flowers
Mike Hughes
Clark Phillips III

No changes to this group throughout camp and preseason, although injuries could end up changing things going into Week 1. We’re still waiting on news of Jeff Okudah, who could be back soon or need to be placed on short-term IR going into the season. Mike Hughes is also banged up, but is expected to be back for the regular season debut.

In other news, Dee Alford appears to have clearly won the slot battle and veteran Tre Flowers has taken over CB2 opposite A.J. Terrell in Okudah’s absence. Rounding out the depth chart is intriguing rookie Clark Phillips III, who I expect to see on the field at some point this season.

S - 4

Jessie Bates III
Richie Grant
Jaylinn Hawkins
DeMarcco Hellams

We really haven’t seen much of the top three players throughout the preseason, instead getting an extended look at the depth players. Of those guys, one has clearly stood out: rookie DeMarrco Hellams. Hellams was known as a physical enforcer coming in to the NFL, but he’s actually made some great plays in coverage. Hellams has an interception in each preseason game thus far and has made his presence known all over the field. It’s safe to say he’s locked up this fourth safety spot despite spirited competition from Micah Abernathy.


K Younghoe Koo

P Bradley Pinion

LS Liam McCullough


KR Cordarrelle Patterson

PR Dee Alford

Only change is at punt returner, where the combination of Dee Alford’s electric punt return TD in the first preseason game and Mike Hughes’ injury has almost certainly led to Alford winning the job to start the regular season.


RB Godwin Igwebuike

WR J.J. Arcega-Whiteside

WR Xavier Malone

WR Penny Hart

TE Tucker Fisk

T Tyler Vrabel

C/G Jovaughn Gwyn

EDGE Kemoko Turay

NT Carlos Davis

DT Albert Huggins

LB Andre Smith Jr.

CB Darren Hall

CB Cornell Armstrong

S Micah Abernathy

DB Natrone Brooks

What are your thoughts on this potential roster for the Falcons? Who will you be watching in the final preseason game on Thursday?